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Newsletter, What's Going On, March 11, 2011

Incidental Economist: Why the Independent Payment Advisory Board dies…and Why You Should Care.

Ezra Klein: Comparative Effectiveness Research is also under attack.

TPMDC: Judge Vinson, the judge in the Florida case contesting the legality of the Affordable Care Act, gave the administration seven days to file an appeal of his decision.  The Department of Justice just filed its appeal, for an expedited ruling, filed within the seven days. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals could hear oral arguments in the case in late June or early July.

POLITICO Pulse: Oral arguments in Liberty University's appeal - the school's challenge to the reform law was dismissed in November - are scheduled for May 10 in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. Each side gets 20 minutes. Under a previous order, the Virginia case brought by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will be heard on the same day.

Ezra Klein’s Wonkbook: The CBO found that repealing the individual mandate would increase the ranks of the uninsured, but cut the deficit, reports Derek Thompson: "The CBO finds that repealing the mandate would increase the number of people without health insurance by 16 million people in 2021. From the CBO: 'About 4 million fewer people would have employment-based coverage; about 6 million fewer people would obtain coverage in the individual market; and about 6 million fewer people would have coverage under Medicaid or CHIP.' CBO also estimates that striking the mandate would increase premiums for policies in the individual market by '15 percent to 20 percent.'...The upshot is that repealing the health insurance mandate would trim our deficit at the cost of more uninsured people and higher health care premiums."

The Wonk Line: “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a list of deficit-cutting options Thursday that includes hundreds of billions in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.”  The list includes both creation of a public option and a large number of possibilities progressives will find unappealing.  

KFF Health Reform Source: Urban Institute Brief Looks at Who Will Remain Uninsured After Reform  A new brief by researchers at the Urban Institute and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation “analyzes the likely composition, state by state, of those who will remain uninsured” after major provisions of health reform are implemented, such as the expansion of Medicaid and the health insurance exchanges. “This composition would vary considerably among states, according to their economic and demographic characteristics and other factors, such as their pre-reform Medicaid eligibility criteria,” write the authors. “For example, the uninsured rate among the nonelderly would vary regionally from 4.6 percent in New England to 11.4 percent in the West South Central region. Massachusetts would have the lowest rate (1.1 percent) and Texas the highest (12.8 percent).” The analysis estimates that "of the 23 million still uninsured, 40 percent would be eligible for, but not enrolled in, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)."

Prescriptions: Congress continues to debate the impact of the federal health care law, with a House subcommittee holding a hearing on Thursday about the effect of the law on the nation’s employers.  If you’re interested in an outline of the issues, you can take a look at a recent brief done by Health Affairs, the academic journal, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Steffie Woolhandler, Deborah Thorne and David Himmelstein authored a paper last week that shows medical bankruptcies are still a very major problem in Massachusetts despite that state’s near-universal health insurance.  Opponents point out that many factors other than medical costs go into bankruptcy and allege that the paper overstates the problem.  In rebuttal, Ivan Miller blogged that “Exact numbers are hard to determine. Medical bankruptcies do not include people who lost life savings, but did not go bankrupt. It does not include people who lost savings paying for a relative. It does not include people whom were not pursued by bill collectors because they had no money left. Some of the people who went bankrupt and had medical bills, it was not the medical bills. There is usually not just one cause, which is what the opposition says.”  He could have added that many bankrupt had lost income during illness or had lost jobs because of illness as the cause of their financial crises.  No matter how you slice it, illness can be financially ruinous in a number of sometimes-unexpected ways and difficult to defend against.

Over 80% of Massachusetts residents are happy with their state’s mandatory health insurance program. 

Like to see what the insurance industry is doing to counter single-payer in Vermont?  Note the criticism in this video of the impact single-payer would have on business…without mention of the impact of health insurance cost on business today.  One Payer States Google Group. 

New York Times: New web site for Consumers on the health care law.  State specific.

New York Times: Medical Homes are wonderful in concept, devilishly difficult to put on the ground. 

Healthcare.gov: Preparing for Innovation: Proposed Process for States to Adopt Innovative Strategies to Meet the Goals of the Affordable Care Act.  Announcement of the process by which states can apply for waivers. 

Kaiser Health News: the Wyden-Brown proposal to advance the date when ACA waivers could start from 2017 to 2014 is in trouble.  

POLITICO: A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN OVER PLANNED PARENTHOOD?- Not so fast: Republican leadership doesn't seem thrilled with the idea. In a series of interviews over the past week, they've dodged social conservatives' mounting cries that the defunding of Planned Parenthood be made a "non-negotiable" item as budget talks with the Senate move forward.

Kaiser Health News: Defunding Strategy Takes Aim At Health Law's Mandatory Spending Provisions.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011.  @5:30 PM.  Third Thursday happy hour (social gathering), at The Scene, restaurant and lounge, upstairs at Monaco, 370 The Bridge Street, Huntsville.  Rob Kilpatrick would appreciate knowing you’re coming.  rob2020@mac.com

Thursday, March 24, 2011. 8 PM. CST  PNHP Leader/Activist Conference Call.  Call me for the number and access code. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011. Please join NAHA (North Alabama Healthcare for All), for a fun lunch with no agenda, just some good discussion. 

Location to be determined.  .  Wednesday before each monthly meeting. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011  7PM CDT. Healthcare-NOW monthly activist phone call. Please use this Dial-in Number 1-218-862-1300 and Conference Code 441086. To mute and unmute the line, please hit *4.

Monday, April 4, 2011  5:30 PM.  North Alabama Healthcare for All Monthly Meeting —Huntsville/Madison County Public Library, 901 Monroe Street  (downtown).  The meeting is in Room AB, on the first floor. After you enter the library’s front door, turn right towards the auditorium.

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